What a strange race this has turned into over the past week. All the makings of a prime-time soap, which is not exactly the purpose of a local election.
Kevin Hanley, who we would argue was the strongest of Mike Gibbs picks for his Pride slate, abruptly resigned from the campaign — though his name remains on the ballot — over vague allegations that Gibbs' opponent for village president, Cathy Adduci, had lied to him. We like Mr. Hanley, but we'd suggest his early departure reflects the wrong temperament for elective office and we think it is best that he has decamped.
That leaves four candidates for three open trustee slots — two of them representing the reduced Pride slate.
With enthusiasm we endorse Roma Colwell-Steinke, the current village clerk and a notable volunteer and activist in River Forest and Oak Park. Steinke has ably served in the post of village clerk and we believe this largely non-speaking role is a useful prep for board service. However, it is her leadership role in the Oak Park and River Forest High School Citizen Council and its IMPACT offshoot that most recommends her to us. That group's determined and inclusive effort to force a true discussion of drug and alcohol abuse at OPRF is one of the stellar accomplishments of recent years in our communities. That sort of team-building, listening-based effort is a model that could be imported to village government and Steinke knows how.
Tom Cargie, currently a member of the park district board, also receives our warm backing. Cargie has done good work on the park board and that experience is a plus for village board service, particularly as economics and common sense will demand active collaboration between our local governments going forward. He has clear-eyed views on village finances, the importance of involving more residents in village government and the need for creative problem-solving. Cargie's year-old DUI arrest has inevitably and rightly come up during this election. He seems properly mortified by the self-inflicted damage he has done to his reputation.
From the PRIDE slate, we choose Tom Dwyer. He is bright and enthusiastic and we'll give him his roots in town, having lived here for 28 of his 34 years. A CPA and an attorney, Dwyer will bring that experience to the board, which is a plus. Beyond that, and his longevity in town, Dwyer will have a lot to learn in a short time in order to become a valuable member of the village board.
Like Dwyer, Lissa Druss Christman is long on roots and short on local government experience, not diminishing her role as a television news producer. Her focus is on improving the village's communications efforts with citizens. That's a worthy goal but secondary to the problem-solving tools necessary to being an effective village trustee.